Arab soccer players refuse to sing national anthem

Arab former soccer player says he wouldn't sing the national anthem with the rest of the team.

Yoel Domb ,


"I didn't sing the anthem during international games. Unless there will be a change in the words of the anthem not everybody can sing. The words "Jewish soul craving" do not fit the Arab sector. If I would sing the anthem it would be a lie." Thus said the former captain of the Benei Sakhnin soccer team and former Israeli international Abbas Suan on Wednesday.

Suan who has retired from professional soccer, was speaking at a special conference initiated by the NIF and entitled :"Kicking the racism and violence out of the stadiums." The event was coordinated with the UEFA-sponsored week of anti-racist activity in European soccer termed FARE- Football against Racism in Europe.

The conference was attended by many former and present players and managers in Israeli soccer including present Israeli manager Elisha Levi.

Levi, who had previously managed the Arab Sakhnin team, said that one need not be afraid of people who are different. "Football is a bridge spanning cultures. Sport can cause more unity in society. I would be happy if I had more players from the Arab sector in the national team. They have tremendous drive. We don't demand that players sing the anthem, but all of them respect one another."

Former player Alon Harazi said that he sees great advances in eliminating racism and violence, but criticized Betar Jerusalem for their refusal to allow Muslim players to play in their team.

Hapoel Haifa midfielder Ahad Azam said that he had never felt racism in the dressing room and added that everyone should follow his internal feeling with regard to the anthem. However Yoav Ziv, a former Betar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv player said that even if there is no duty to sing the anthem, players should show respect to the national team and to the symbols of the Jewish state."